Becoming in Shadows ~ Of Being Touched is a ticket to the uncanny valley for those willing to take the ride. In the driver’s seat is Jason Doell, a Toronto-based sound artist who, using a prepared piano as his vehicle of choice, guides his listeners through some eerie and perplexing electroacoustic terrain with this release. However unsettling this world may be, it is not a hostile one, and it doesn’t take much to hear how lovingly Doell has crafted the three soundscapes that together makeup Becoming in Shadows.
At the heart of this release is a man and a piano, but Doell does not simply play the piano, he plays with the piano. Without any rhythm or melody to speak of, this album revels in the many organic textures and fascinating timbres Doell is able to source from the instrument. Amidst the atonal and listless harmonies there is delightful sonic variety here and Doell makes an orchestra of sorts out of the piano. Especially lovely is the bowed piano texture used to great effect in “of becoming.”
These acoustics are processed digitally and fed through an algorithm that adds a particular haphazardness to it all. The result then is an album that sounds exactly what it looks like, a computer-generated fever dream. Eventually, the moments where something resembling normalcy appear feel especially poignant and beautiful. While it makes for a challenging listen, for what it is, it is done exceptionally well.